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Bluff review – tiny-budget cop thriller aims for Guy Ritchie meets Line of Duty | Film

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Twenty-seven-year-old Birmingham-born director Sheikh Shahnawaz makes an impression with his macho low-budget debut about an undercover cop. It is a crime drama with two teaspoons of Guy Richie, a tablespoon of Line of Duty and a dollop of sentimental social-realism chucked in at end. It’s not without flaws but Shahnawaz is clearly ambitious and does well on what looks like a minuscule budget.

Gurj Gill plays Danny, a Met detective recruited for an undercover operation: posing as an addict to sniff out major crack and heroin dealers. The chief constable, concerned about police corruption, keeps the job hush-hush, strictly between the two of them. (The film is jam-packed with implausibilities like this. If Danny’s job is off the books, who’s paying for it? Would a cop really go undercover as a bottom-rung addict to infiltrate a supply chain?)

There is a nice chemistry between Danny and Cooks (Jason Adam), the funny, vulnerable young homeless addict he grooms to be his friend. The film then toggles between two timelines: Danny and Cooks working as dealers for gangster Imran (Nisaro Karim); and a bit later, when a fixed-up Danny has been promoted to Imran’s right-hand man. Here he is uneasy about lying to Cooks, and the film has things to say about the cost of the illicit drugs trade to addicts.

Bluff is undoubtedly heartfelt but a bit of plot development might have sharpened things up – and it could do with losing 20 minutes. A drug adviser might also have been useful for the scene where Imran chops a pile of cocaine into a mountainous line that even Keith Richards in his heyday would have struggled to snort in one go.

Bluff is available now on digital platforms.


Twenty-seven-year-old Birmingham-born director Sheikh Shahnawaz makes an impression with his macho low-budget debut about an undercover cop. It is a crime drama with two teaspoons of Guy Richie, a tablespoon of Line of Duty and a dollop of sentimental social-realism chucked in at end. It’s not without flaws but Shahnawaz is clearly ambitious and does well on what looks like a minuscule budget.

Gurj Gill plays Danny, a Met detective recruited for an undercover operation: posing as an addict to sniff out major crack and heroin dealers. The chief constable, concerned about police corruption, keeps the job hush-hush, strictly between the two of them. (The film is jam-packed with implausibilities like this. If Danny’s job is off the books, who’s paying for it? Would a cop really go undercover as a bottom-rung addict to infiltrate a supply chain?)

There is a nice chemistry between Danny and Cooks (Jason Adam), the funny, vulnerable young homeless addict he grooms to be his friend. The film then toggles between two timelines: Danny and Cooks working as dealers for gangster Imran (Nisaro Karim); and a bit later, when a fixed-up Danny has been promoted to Imran’s right-hand man. Here he is uneasy about lying to Cooks, and the film has things to say about the cost of the illicit drugs trade to addicts.

Bluff is undoubtedly heartfelt but a bit of plot development might have sharpened things up – and it could do with losing 20 minutes. A drug adviser might also have been useful for the scene where Imran chops a pile of cocaine into a mountainous line that even Keith Richards in his heyday would have struggled to snort in one go.

Bluff is available now on digital platforms.

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